"Varanasi - Testament to Faith" Varanasi by lynnehamman

Varanasi Travel Guide: 647 reviews and 1,505 photos

Varanasi Benares Kashi

"Benares is older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together."
Mark Twain.

What more can one say about Varanasi.......City of many names ( Kashi Benares Varanasi), that has not already been said. I will give just a few of my thoughts & impressions of this unforgettable experience that is Holiest City to all Hindus.
We arrived by train, from Calcutta, expecting the usual chaos at the station, but there was none. Everything went smoothly and we found a cab that took us to our hotel. Because of a certain kind of madness that comes upon us whenever we are in India, we had only booked the night before,on the train. I got out the trusty Lonely Planet Guide, & my mobile phone, and we found this hotel, Hotel Ganges View, at Assi Ghat.It was perfect. with a view of the Ganges

Faith & Inevitability

Although Varanasi is the city where all Hindus would like to finally close their eyes , and we saw old people lying on the Ghats, waiting to die....,there is no sadness here. Dying & death are part of life, and are accepted as just that, by Hindus. But to die in Varanasi, one achieves Moksha, which is liberation from the circle of re-incarnation, and finds eternal peace. Death is a business here.....at the cremation ghats, barbers shave the heads of sons, who have lost a loved one...woodsellers sell wood for the pyres, and the "doms" are waiting to supervise the cremation. The teeming lanes echo with the chanting of men, carrying flower bedecked corpses to the pyre. And everywhere, the pervasive smell of burning flesh.We got used to it after a few hours....there was so much happening. We watched a cremation. There was no sadnes, just acceptance. The ashes are then strewn back into Mother Ganga.
An interesting observation regarding the caste system in India- the Doms, who oversee the cremations- are from the lowest cast. Brahmin caste would avoid them under all instances. However, even a Brahmin cannot have a cremation without the attendance of a Dom. So what goes around comes around
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Ganga Ma

Every evening there is a ceremony on the banks of the Main ghat, with thousands of baskets with lighted candles floating down the Ganges, back to the sea. This is done in rememberance of a loved one,and as an offering to Mother Ganga.
The arti (puja) is performed by 6 priests, and is fascinating to watch.A truly spiritual atmosphere filled the air, made perfumed by the incense that was used in the puja.
Many hundreds of people watch this ceremony every evening at sunset.

3000 years old, Varanasi is the oldest city in the world that has had continual habitation. It is also believed to be the religious & cultural centre of India. The Benares Hindu University is attended by students from all over India.
The practice of Ayurvedic medicine originated in Varanasi.

Buddha preached his first sermon from Sarnath, a nearby town.

...

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:One cannot leave this city feeling unaffected.
  • Last visit to Varanasi: Dec 2007
  • Intro Updated Jan 19, 2012
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Reviews (18)

Comments (46)

  • elpariente's Profile Photo
    Dec 29, 2012 at 1:01 PM

    Your photos are very good and the tips very interesting .I will make the arti at the sunset
    Gracias !!!!!

  • Callavetta's Profile Photo
    Dec 14, 2011 at 12:39 PM

    Lynne, you really are the go to person when it comes to India. I would love to travel here with you. :-)

  • illumina's Profile Photo
    Apr 18, 2010 at 11:39 PM

    Really good page on Varanasi - this was one of my favourite places in India!

  • junecorlett's Profile Photo
    Jan 4, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    Good update!

  • MM212's Profile Photo
    Dec 12, 2009 at 5:24 AM

    I missed Varanasi (along with many other destinations) on my trip to India earlier this year. Perhaps on my next visit. Thanks for a fantastic page!

  • icunme's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2009 at 7:20 AM

    Fascinating and alluring - all your photos/detail just lovely - enjoyed Ganga Aarti celebration especially. Grazie, <(•¿•)>

  • Pawtuxet's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2009 at 6:38 AM

    You have ventured deep into the culture here. Not a city for everyone. The city must have been founded under the sign of Scorpio.

  • Kuznetsov_Sergey's Profile Photo
    Nov 20, 2009 at 1:31 AM

    Thank you Lynne for showing us Varanasi which I'm still planning to see next year in my trip to India. Quite agree with it's a very attractive and unusual place.

  • starship's Profile Photo
    Oct 22, 2009 at 5:25 AM

    What a beautifully written and interesting page! I learned more about the Indian culture from this page which is so timely as I am attending my first Diwali celebration tomorrow night!!

  • lindyz's Profile Photo
    Oct 6, 2009 at 2:38 PM

    Lynne, I have now visited Varanasi - you write from the heart and you write so well, its almost as if I have actually been there. Another very interesting and informative page. Thanx :)

lynnehamman

“The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.- Rudyard Kipling”

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